What now in Newtown? Seize the change, healers say
"The only helpful question to ask is what next?" Woodall said.
Charles Dumais, principal of Newtown High School, came up with an answer after consulting with Woodall. Dumais is exhorting his community to honor the dead through the kind of high character and good deeds that will create a future of resilience — not sorrow.
"If you have not done so already, please take a moment now to think about what you wish the future to look like," Dumais wrote in an email to his students and staff. "We had no control over this senseless, cruel, horrific act, but we do have absolute control over our response to it."
People first must survive the present.
Dennis Stratford, who works for the school district, happened to be making a delivery to Sandy Hook Elementary School when the gunman attacked. He saw dead children. He saw the remains of dead children on those who survived. He waited agonizing minutes for his own child to emerge unharmed from the school. Two of his neighbors' children did not.
"I go home and cry every night, and I cry every morning," Stratford said.
He went to one counseling session, but the horrific images remain. What helps more is work: sorting through the warehouses full of gifts, delivering them where they need to go or doing whatever else needs to be done for his town.
"There were nine minutes of evil, and an infinity of goodness after that," Stratford said, sitting on a forklift loaded with gifts. "This is therapy for me."
MacInnes, the retired teacher, said Lanza did not require extra academic attention and he acted normal socially. She said Lanza was a gentle soul and she never saw him after the second grade. MacInnes first confirmed to The Washington Post that Lanza was in her class at Sandy Hook.
Matthew Crebbin, pastor of the Newtown Congregational Church and leader of the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association, said the rest of the world will soon go back to normal.
"The bad news and the good news in Newtown is that our community will never be the same," Crebbin said. "It doesn't have to mean that this is a world of just loss and sorrow and spiraling disruption if we can draw from this strength and have a sense that we are called to something more and to strengthen connections to each other."
Associated Press writers Brock Vergakis, Pat Eaton-Robb and Michael Melia contributed to this report.